Phil Keoghan gives CBS a ‘Tough as Nails’ competition

Getting ‘Tough’: Phil Keoghan hosts and produces new CBS series

“Tough as Nails” premieres Wednesday on CBS.

When Phil Keoghan created “Tough as Nails,” he didn’t foresee it being even more apt by the time it aired.

A producer as well as the host of “The Amazing Race,” he also fills both roles on his new CBS competition series that begins Wednesday, July 8. The contestants are workers whose regular occupations — from a deputy sheriff and a firefighter to a welder and a farmer — help keep America running and qualify them for the show’s challenges, with physical and mental strength among the traits needed for tasks they perform at various job sites.

With his wife Louise a fellow executive producer of “Tough as Nails,” the friendly Keoghan notes “the timing of the nature of the show” is quite appropriate. “We didn’t know when we were shooting the series, which is about essential workers, just how pertinent and how relevant it was going to be in terms of what’s in the zeitgeist now. We’re honoring these very people, and as someone said to me, never have we been so appreciative of people who make $15 an hour.

“I don’t know if any of us will look at somebody stocking shelves in a grocery store the same way again,” adds Keoghan. “We understand the value of everybody who contributes to society and the world that we had taken for granted.”

Phil Keoghan hosts “Tough as Nails,” premiering Wednesday on CBS.

“The Amazing Race” is expected to return to CBS later this year with its already taped 32nd season. Keoghan is satisfied to have “Tough as Nails” on first, recognizing — and, in fact, hoping for — the added significance its theme could have in this time of social distancing and face coverings.

In a sense, the show is something of an immediate throwback to an age that may not come back again, at least not fully. “We don’t know what world we’re inheriting after all of this, or how it’s going to work,” the clearly well-traveled Keoghan reasons. “There will definitely be changes and as we always have done, we’ll just adapt.

“Are we going to shake hands again? I don’t know. I wonder if that common courtesy will become more of a Japanese type of gesture, where it’s doing to be more of a nod … or maybe it will be a fist bump or elbow bump. And how will it be in restaurants, or on airplanes?”

Indeed, Keoghan reflects, “I’ve been flying long enough that I remember when people used to smoke on planes. You’d be in the nonsmoking section, but you might as well have been sitting in the smoking section, because the smoke would drift to where you were. I just know that it is not going to be the same again.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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